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It’s our birthday!

10 Jul 2019


It’s our birthday! Discover 31 fun facts about Pensthorpe

11 July 2019, is our 31st birthday and to celebrate we’ve put together 31 fascinating facts about Pensthorpe Natural Park. See how many you know!

  1. Pensthorpe was opened in 1988 by Bill Makins and purchased by Bill and Deb Jordan, of Jordans Cereals, in 2003 
  2. The site is made up of 700 acres
  3. Pensthorpe aims to naturally inspire every generation to protect and enjoy nature and wildlife
  4. Around 800 different species have been recorded across the site, (with the aim of reaching 1,00 by the end of the year) which is no mean feat!
  5. The Pensthorpe estate is made up of a myriad of different habitats including woodland, wetland, grassland, farmland and the river Wensum, which is unusual and unique for an inland nature reserve
  6. It was the former host of BBC’s Springwatch between 2008 and 2010
  7. The Millennium Garden is most notable for having been designed by world-renowned leading garden designer and plantsman, Piet Oudolf, and was opened in 1999
  8. Pensthorpe has 49 resident flamingos who reside in the Wetland Discovery Area in a tropical-inspired lagoon
  9. It is home to the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust – a charity involved in conserving some of the rarest species and working to reintroduce endangered species as well as looking after wetland habitats – a portion of all admissions goes to support this charity
  10. HRH the Duke of Edinburgh is the Patron of the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust
  11. The river Wensum runs through the middle of the reserve and has the protection of being a Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
  12. Our solar panels create 25,000 KWh per annum and save about 10,000kg of CO2. It takes approximately 3,300KWh to run the average house per annum so we could power seven houses!
  13. Woolly Mammoth tusks were found on site, when it was being developed, through gravel extraction. The mammoth became extinct about 10,000 years ago
  14. Pasture Field Two was the site of the medieval village of Pensthorpe and was hit badly by Black Death in 1395
  15. Maris Otter barley, grown on site, is sent to Crisp Maltings at Great Ryburgh which is a key ingredient in the beer making process
  16. Some of the oats grown on site go to Jordans and are used in the production of their famous breakfast cereals
  17. Since 2009, we have been working on restoring and creating hedgerows and by 2016 over three miles of hedgerow restoration and creation had been completed
  18. There was an old railway line, Midland and Great Northern, which ran north east of Fakenham, and was closed in the 1950s by Dr Beeching. This old line runs through the Pensthorpe Estate
  19. The Wader Scrape is an open area of shallow water with shingle and sand islands for breeding waders. The water levels are managed to create muddy edges for avocets, little ringed plover, lapwing, godwits, sandpipers and snipe. It was a popular filming location during the Springwatch years
  20. The serene and reflective Wave Garden, designed by Julie Toll, a six-time Gold Medal Winner at Chelsea Flower Show, demonstrates planting in a wide variety of conditions. Its framework of gently rolling yew hedging and simple planting structure ensure that the Wave Garden enjoys lush foliage throughout the year
  21. The Wildflower Meadow is cut and cleared in the late summer and then grazed. If we don’t clear it, too many nutrients go into the ground and trees start to encroach. In the UK we have lost 97% of this type of meadow since the Second World War
  22. Teeming with life and its diverse selection of Wildflowers, it’s no surprise that the Wildflower Meadow attracted the attention of BBC2’s Great British Garden Revival as a base for filming in the height of summer
  23. There are seven bird hides at Pensthorpe – all offering a different habitat to look out onto, each attracting different species
  24. Starmoor woods has pingo ponds, created towards the end of the last ice age when glaciers retreated and hard layers of ice caused depressions in the soil
  25. In the woods there are bee nests in a large ash tree. At its height there are over 30,000 bees using it
  26. Pensthorpe is a Constant Effort Site (CES) which means we carry out bird ringing, where birds are regularly ringed and monitored so that we know species, sex, and migration routes. Each year over 500 birds are ringed and some return every year from Africa!
  27. Encouraging children to connect with nature is a prime objective of Pensthorpe’s. Our woodland play area, WildRootz, complete with a running stream, tunnels, dens, towers and zip wires is the perfect environment for children to let off steam
  28. Hootz House, the award winning indoor play area, is made from 90 per cent sustainably-sourced timber and the cladding is perforated with holes to create a habitat for bird and insect life.
  29. Pensthorpe has its own Junior Board – a group of children who tell us what matters to them in terms of nature and conservation, and they get to try out some of our new activities, events and openings first!
  30. In May 2019 we hosted the first Pensthorpe Bird & Wildlife Fair to celebrate Norfolk as the bird-watching capital of Britain. The event will return on 16th and 17th May 2020
  31. In the past year alone Pensthorpe Conservation Trust has taken a lead role in campaigns to bolster numbers of red squirrels, cranes and corncrakes, all of which are threatened species in need of help.

For 31 years Pensthorpe Natural Park has been a source of inspiration and enjoyment for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts alike. A massive thank you to all our team, volunteers, members and visitors who support us. Here’s to another 31 years!